Cooking gas, power for all of rural India by 2022, says govt
Taking a cue from the ‘One Nation, One Grid’ concept used in the power sector, the government will develop gas grids, water grids, inland waterways and regional airports “to take connectivity infrastructure to the next level”, finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman said in her Budget speech on Friday.
She said that the government would work towards improving electricity supply to the states at affordable rates. She also said the Centre’s plans to supply round-the-clock power to all will be a key priority in the current financial year.
“All villages, and almost 100% households across the country have been provided with electricity. A combination of efficient implementation and enthusiastic adoption has significantly improved access to energy for rural households. By 2022, the 75th year of India’s independence, I would like to assure the nation that every single rural family, except those who are unwilling to take the connection will have an electricity and a clean cooking facility,” she said.
The Centre is also working on a tariff policy aimed at ushering in reforms in the power sector.
“Our government launched Ujjwal DISCOM Assurance Yojana (UDAY) in 2015 aimed at financial and operational turnaround of DISCOMs. Government is examining the performance of the scheme and it will be further improved. We will work with the state governments to remove barriers like cross subsidy surcharges, undesirable duties on open access sales or captive generation for industrial and other bulk power consumers. Besides these structural reforms, considerable reforms are needed in tariff policy. A package of power sector tariff and structural reforms would soon be announced,” she said.
Union power minister RK Singh had told HT last week that the Centre would also come out with a new version of the UDAY scheme aimed at giving financial assistance to reduce losses by ensuring that the cost of power is recovered.
“The budget speech duly emphasised the importance of infrastructure and connectivity to the Indian economy – in terms of enhancing and taking forward programmes across various key infrastructure sub-sectors,” said Peeyush Naidu, Partner, Deloitte.
“While budgetary allocations and priorities will have to be studied in detail, I believe that the budget’s focus on comprehensive plans and blueprints for various infrastructure plans/ grids is a welcome one – especially in the context of considering systemic trade-offs and development of economic and efficient infrastructure, and involving private sector in this area in a bigger way on a long-term basis,” Naidu added.
Sitharaman also said a programme for multiplying usage of LED bulbs had resulted in saving ~18,341 crore annually while approximately 35 crore LED bulbs have been distributed under Ujala Yojana scheme.
“For good quality of life and ease of living, maintaining a cleaner environment and ensuring sustainable energy use is vital... We will use the approach of mission LED bulb method to promote the use of solar stoves and battery chargers in the country,” she said.